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Stuck in Conflict? Try Energy Medicine

It’s time to come clean: I can count at least two epic fails in the year. Interest in another’s perspective? Nope. Full on blame? Yep. I didn’t do anything wrong! Negative, sarcastic emotion was practically dripping off the tips of my fingers. My words were laced with venom. The depth of my anger surprised me. Skills? I had none. Emotional intelligence? What!? I hardly had control.

These two epic fails rocked my sense of professional competence. For the last twenty-five years, I have been a mediator, communication skills trainer, educator and coach. My passion is helping others constructively put tough issues on the table, to speak their truth, and hear what others are trying to say. I am committed to practicing what I preach. It’s important both personally and professionally to walk the walk and talk the talk with clients and family alike. Could I fail this big AND still be good at what I do? It only got worse when I reviewed all those other times over the years when my skills completely evaporated. What good are communication skills if they skip town when you need them most?

Every experience is an opportunity for growth and learning – and here’s what I started to notice: a pattern. On the surface, they looked like discrete events. Different people. Different topics. Pull back the curtain, and the basic DNA was the same. When I looked back over the years, it was like I was walking through a mine field. If I was not near a mine I had full access to my skills, my head and heart were balanced, and I managed many difficult situations with diplomacy and compassion. But the closer I got to a mine, the more skill leached out of my body. I would be mute where normally I have words. I would fall on my sword when the conversation needed to be about mutual contribution. Occasionally I would hit a mine so directly there was a big explosion and shrapnel. And the same seemed to be true for many clients.

What happens? What are these mines? And what can we do? Here’s where we need to move out of our heads and into our energy. Conflict, difficult conversations and negotiation all raise our stress levels and thus shift our energy. Eden Energy Medicine gives us simple, easy-to-use tools to bring our energy back into balance. Even if my stress is “manageable,” my skills improve by doing the Eden Energy Medicine Five Minute Routine. I have one on-going negotiation where I always lose my zip-up. When a sense of vulnerability sinks in, it’s time to zip-up in the restroom. When I need to speak my truth, grounding and doing Wayne Cook enables me to articulate clear thoughts. For most of my day-to-day communication challenges, the five-minute routine keeps things humming well.

However, sometimes a conflict or conversation touches on a deeper issue. The emotions associated with it are deeper, my sense of identity is threatened, and it feels like my values are on the line. I’m triggered – and I might not even know why. When this happens, energy psychology has changed the game. Also known as tapping or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), energy psychology allows the practitioner to release old emotional patterns, thoughts and behaviors (AKA mines!) that are no longer beneficial. By stimulating acupressure points, energy psychology re-wires the brain so old patterns recede, creating capacity for working with what is in this moment with openness, compassion and creativity.

I would love to wrap this up in a little bow and tell you a simple daily energy medicine routine followed by a few rounds of tapping has cleared away all my mines and that I am completely skilled all the time. I’m not sure that’s possible. Some mines remain and, I suspect, will require a lifetime of work. However, I spot the mines more clearly, I have tools to make a pre-emptive pivot to avoid them, and I have lessened the impact of stepping on them. My ability to recover and re-engage is greatly improved giving me greater depth and flexibility to talk about the hard stuff.

My clients and Rachel’s are seeing similar results. In fact, we’re so excited that we have created a day-long Communicating with Impact Training that combines the basic Difficult Conversations framework (by Stone, Patton and Heen) with energy management and energy psychology techniques. Curious to learn more? Rachel and I can’t stop talking about it. Give us a call.

Amy Rebecca Gay is a mediator, coach and consultant whose passion is to help people speak their truth. Amy brings an active awareness of the mind/body connection, a warm and welcoming style and a deep dedication to using one’s mind for powerful transformation. She has a PhD from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and is trained by the Coaches Training Institute. You can reach Amy at amy@consultfr.com.

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Tapping a fearless path forward

Why does tapping work so quickly?

This past Friday, my colleagues Deb Elbaum, MD, CPCC, and Amy Rebecca Gay, PhD, and I facilitated a workshop at Bryant University Women’s Summit for a packed room of more than 70 women about how to be more effective at setting and maintaining strong boundaries.

We led the group to 1) discover the values that were underlying their unclear boundaries, 2) learn how to communicate their “No” in a way that would help rather than hinder their relationships and 3) clear emotions and limiting beliefs that might get in their way.

I was delighted to see how many hands went up at the end of the session indicating that their fears, worries, anxieties and limiting beliefs had markedly diminished.  But how could it possibly work so quickly?

Workshop participants had said that when they thought about having the important conversations about their boundaries they started to feel worried, anxious, fearful, stressed and had thoughts like “the other person might not like me after I say what I need” and “I might not be effective (so maybe I shouldn’t try).”

I led them through a process to clear the emotions and beliefs that might inhibit productive conversations. It involved tapping on points along the meridian system of the body while thinking or speaking aloud about the concerns.

Tapping anywhere on the body sends a calming message to the brain.  It basically communicates “I’m safe” and simultaneously releases pent up energy from the body. Essentially the brain understands that we aren’t in a life threatening situation because we wouldn’t be sitting there tapping on the body if we were being chased by a tiger.  The calming message is received in the brain at the same time the worry or concern is being processed and actually interrupts the processing of the worry with a new message that “there is nothing here that is life threatening.” This allows for a new interpretation of the situation to be understood and the conflicting emotion to be integrated. We tapped and talked aloud together about our concerns for about 5 minutes.

Before we started the tapping process, I asked the participants to rate their distress about their concern on a scale of 0-10 with 0 meaning no concern at all and 10 meaning the most concern.  When we were done tapping, I asked the group to again rate their distress on the 10 point scale. When I asked people to raise their hand if their score had gone down, almost every single hand went into the air.  Remarkable.

For more information on Tapping (a.k.a. Emotional Freedom Technique) and the Research supporting its efficacy check this out. 

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The Science of a Biofield

In my search for information to satisfy the skeptical part of my brain that has a hard time grasping things that I can’t see, touch, smell or taste, I came across a presentation by Beverly Rubik. She has a PhD in biophysics from the University of California (Berkeley) and is a pioneer in the field of Biofield Science. Her organization, The Institute for Frontier Science, received a grant from the National Institute of Health to study the Biofield in 2002.

She started her talk by introducing the concept of a magnetic field, first highlighting what happens when you place a piece of paper over a bar magnet and sprinkle iron shavings on it. Below you can see the field that emerges in the pattern as the north and south sides of the magnet pull shavings toward themselves. Thanks to MIT for the image.

She also introduced the concept that the earth has an electromagnetic field that looks similar. This image came from Wikipedia:

Human beings also have polarity and an electro-magnetic field.  So what?  The field is sensitive and reacts to other fields and energetic patterns in our environment. Even thoughts.  And, definitely heat, light, sound and electro-magnetic frequencies which are given off by high tension wires, computers, wireless phones and cell phone towers.

The interesting concept from my perspective is that shifts in consciousness effect the biofield and can positively impact healing.  Beverly measured the changes in light as a result of changing intention and also simply sitting in meditation. She found that:

  • The intention to emit energy to help a sick person or animal increases light emission from the hands by 100-1000x. This light can be absorbed and enhance molecular function.  (As she proved in research that she did by scientifically measuring how reiki that was delivered to heat-radiated, damaged bacteria in a petri dish increased the number of colonies generated (showing improved health of the bacteria) vs bacteria that did not receive reiki.)
  • Meditation increases light emission from the crown of the head and palms of the hands by 100-1000x. This implies that just a change in consciousness can shift our own healing potential.

Where the mind goes, Qi goes. Where Qi goes, blood flows.  —Principal of Oriental Medicine

Do we have an energetic field around us? If we do, what difference does it make? Does it impact us in any way? Does it impact people around us?

Fortunately, we do have a field that both protects us and, if we’re healthy, screens incoming information and wave patterns.  If the field is diminished, as can happen with prolonged stress or trauma, we are more vulnerable to environmental radiation (like what comes off of mobile phones and cell towers).

According to Beverly, “Epidemiology has linked chronic exposure from the microwaves from cell phone radiation and other wireless devices to cancer, in particular an increased risk for glioma, a type of brain cancer that is very lethal, and acoustic neuroma, a rare cancer that started to appear after cell phones became the dominant communication system on Earth.”

What can we do about it?  I believe that by strengthening our energetic bodies and minimizing exposure to harmful radiation, we can decrease our potential to be impacted.

For those who are interested in Beverly’s work, here is a link to her site. 

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Scientific Evidence for Reiki?

When I was in my twenties, my roommate came home one day and exclaimed, “I just learned this technique where I can place my hands over your body and provide healing and relaxation. Want to try it?”

“Hunh?” I thought, “This is just ridiculous. How could that possibly work?”

Now, over 25 years after my roommate’s announcement, all the major hospitals in the Greater Boston Area and many others around the globe offer reiki as part of their care programs.   The good news, for the analytically minded amongst us, is that science is now able to supply evidence that supports the efficacy of reiki and other healing modalities.

Reiki is a form of energy medicine which can be defined as “the diagnostic and therapeutic use of energies (e.g. lights, sound, heat, gravity, pressure, electricity, vibration, magnetism, electromagnetism, or chemical energy) whether produced by or detected by a medical device or the human body.  Energy medicine involves the use of certain energetic intensities or frequencies (whether from a machine or hand) that stimulate the repair of tissues or built-in healing mechanisms.” (source: James Oschman).

There are many scientific, controlled studies that have been done about reiki. The two listed here are just a sampling, but they  are indicative of what has been studied:

  • In 2000, William F. Bengston conducted and published research into the effectiveness of hands-on healing.  His healing research produced the first successful full cures of transplanted mammary cancer in mice by a hands-on technique as published in the Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 14, No. 3, pp353-364, 2000.  In the experiment, they obtained five experimental mice with mammary cancer which had a predicted 100% fatality between 14 and 27 days subsequent to injection. Bengston treated these mice for 1 hour per day for 1 month and the mice lived their normal life spans while control mice sent to another city died within the predicted time frame. Three replications using skeptical volunteers and other laboratories produced an overall cure rate of 87.9% in 33 experimental mice.
  • In addition, in 2006, Ann Baldwin and Gary Schwartz showed that personal interaction with a reiki practitioner significantly decreased noise-induced microvascular damage in an animal model.  Conclusions of their study are that reiki can be administered to animals and results in a reduction in stress-related physiological response (significantly more than when offered by someone who is pretending to give reiki).  Their research was published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (12(1): 15-22).

My own personal experience with Reiki has been that it supports healing by lowering stress and increasing feelings of calm. In my early 30s, I was scheduled to have bone removed from my foot and thought it might be helpful to have a reiki practitioner join me in pre-op.  I had heard that it might help me to calm my nerves before surgery. When the reiki practitioner arrived, she placed her hand on the center of my back and immediately I was filled with warmth, light and a calm, centered feeling. She sat near me during the pre-op period and her presence (and the reiki energy she was sending) helped me stay calm. The nurse was surprised at how even and mellow my pulse was.

The good news is that in addition to our subjective experiences, we now have mounting evidence that supports profound quantifiable outcomes for reiki. Stay tuned for research that supports other energy medicine modalities.

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The Science Behind Energy Psychology

Only recently have we been able to measure subtle energies, measure shifts in subtle energies in the body, and measure the impact of energy medicine on well-being. Even though people experience positive results from these modalities, they may doubt the efficacy of the modality, perhaps attributing their success to the placebo effect or something they just can’t put their finger on.  The good news is that there is more and more scientific evidence that supports the notion that energy medicine and energy psychology are effective.

Specifically, according to the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology, there have been over 100 research studies, review articles and meta-analyses that have been published in professional, peer-reviewed journals.  This includes:

  • 43 randomized controlled trials
  • 39 outcome studies
    • 98% of the above 82 studies show positive results
  • 4 meta-analyses
  • 4 systemic reviews
  • Hundreds of case studies
  • 1 more meta-analysis in press and will be published in 2016, which analyzes a series of studies documenting the efficacy of EFT.

A few years ago I would have fallen into the skeptical bunch, but I have seen too many people benefit from the work now to doubt it at all.  I recently worked with a client who wanted help feeling less stuck.  He was skeptical about energy medicine and energy psychology but decided to give it a try.

He had already achieved a tremendous amount in his life and had been the driving force behind his previous employer’s growth by inventing numerous, patented solutions for his employer.  He had also started two companies but something was holding him back from moving forward. He was internally creating but not externally engaging.  He wasn’t making the phone calls he needed to make and overall he didn’t feel like he had value to add. He felt tightness in his chest every time he thought about it.

During the first two sessions we focused on identifying the limiting beliefs that were getting in his way of moving forward. We also talked about various events that had happened in his life that could be related in some way to how he was feeling. Once we mapped it out, he could more easily pinpoint the areas where he felt most limited. We used a technique called ‘tapping’ to clear the emotions and beliefs from his system so that he had a clear slate on which to create new neural pathways.  Then we talked about who he is at his core, what makes his heart sing and cause him to be joyful at the start of a day. We identified his life’s purpose and used tapping to enable him to access the feelings of inspiration, joy and creativity that he felt when he thought about his life’s purpose.   After two sessions he felt energized and excited about the possibilities ahead. He was now waking up feeling vibrant each day.

But it wasn’t only his feeling about things that changed. His businesses started to take a turn for the better.  When we touched based between the second and third sessions, he reported that one of his products was now close to being production ready. (It is now produced.)  In addition, a new client for his other product had requested a volume order and a third customer had commissioned a new design.  Not only that, he had made phone calls and reached out to people who had been on his ‘to do’ list for a while. He was unstuck.  Over the past few months, things have continued to evolve and another of his products is under contract to be mass produced!

Over the next few months I plan to share summaries of the studies that have been published which provide scientific evidence in support of these modalities.  I hope that you will reach out to talk with me about them.  In the meantime, if you’re curious, you can learn more here.

 

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An Express Train to Higher Performance

As a senior level executive I was always looking to up my game. I read books, I worked out, I meditated and I sought help from professional executive coaches. I found incremental value in each of these approaches. Most of what I learned were cognitive behavioral techniques aimed at helping me identify where, when and how to do things differently. Each required me to pivot my own thoughts and actions mid-stream just like one might in a tennis game. Difficult to do on the spot and it takes tons of practice. If someone consistently applies a new desired behavior, “success” can be achieved in about 21 days. Personally, I wanted a faster and more reliable way to get to peak performance.

express train
Take the express train to peak performance

 

What if it didn’t have to be that difficult or take that long? Tapping (aka Emotional Freedom Technique) is an approach to behavioral change that has been around for about 30 years. Although some call this approach “woo woo”, results from this technique have been remarkable and dramatic for many individuals. War veterans who have been suffering from PTSD for decades have found relief within days with tapping. It has helped many who lived through the Newtown shooting and Bosnian genocide move forward with their lives. Others have gotten relief from phobias, addictions, weight issues and more. So why wouldn’t we consider applying similar techniques to sports and work performance?

What if we could optimize our own work performance so that we stopped procrastinating, worrying and hedging? What if we could clear our own limiting beliefs that are getting in the way of outrageous success… beliefs that may have started in childhood like “I’m not enough,” “If it isn’t perfect, I’ve failed” or “I’m afraid of presenting in front of a group,”

How does tapping work exactly? It involves tapping on acupoints on the body (points along the meridian system, an energy transport system in the body). As we tap on the body, tension is released and the body starts to relax. If we tap while thinking, feeling or talking about a symptom, behavior, emotion, event or belief, the brain feels the body relaxing and starts to integrate the previously stressful experiences in the context of newly relaxed state, enabling the brain to get a fresh perspective. Once the integration happens, we can think about the stressful event without being triggered. Then, new positive thoughts or desired behaviors can be introduced.

What would your career look like if you were able to quickly release the thoughts, feelings and events that are holding you back? What actions would you take? What would your earnings potential be? How well would your company do if everyone on your team were able to clear old, non-productive thought patterns and limiting beliefs?

Stand in Your Power
Be at Your Peak Performance

 

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Grounding is Not Just for Houses

Recently one of my clients asked me to help her to communicate more effectively in front of a group.  She told me that she wanted to be able to handle questions from tough clients in a group setting without getting ruffled or feeling defensive.  In the past, she had experienced freezing up when she was confronted by a client with an aggressive tone or posture.  She wanted to be able to move through future experiences with more grace, ease and comfort.  A key aspect of being able to withstand the storm of confrontation, questioning, judgement and public evaluation is grounding.

Grounding absent

We have all seen leaders who are grounded. They are able to make thoughtful decisions and stick with them. They seem unruffled by unexpected events and disgruntled clients or employees. They are able to be present with people in each interaction, seamlessly shifting their attention from one conversation to the next without skipping a beat.  They walk with ease.

Leaders who are un-grounded, on the other hand, are more emotionally volatile (sometimes bursting with anger at employees or at missed deadlines) and are more easily impacted by chaos that surrounds them.  They have a harder time bringing clarity to situations, have more difficulty keeping things in perspective, have scattered thoughts and have more trouble focusing and prioritizing. They may also have difficulty moving forward.

Energetically, grounding is a function of

  1. our own electro-magnetic connection with that of the earth (like magnets that are attracted to each other)
  2. the flow of energy between us and the earth through meridians (e.g. energetic pathways). Energy flows down from our body into the ground and up from the ground into our body.
  3. the flow of energy between us and the earth through an energetic vortex that sweeps energy up into our body and spills over and back down to the earth.

Losing our grounding happens with acute or on-going stressors, when we’re exposed to electro-magnetic devices, when we’re on a plane and or in a car for long periods of time, when we wear rubber soled shoes or work in a high-rise building.

The good news is that we can reclaim our grounding with some relatively simple Eden Energy Medicine techniques.  These techniques get the energy moving more effectively between our bodies and the earth, thus creating a stronger connection and flow, and enabling us to stand more firmly in our bodies.  This leads to more effective and confident communication. Try it and see:

  • Massage your feet, especially the spaces in between your metatarsals (toe bones). Gently squeeze each toe and toe nail and pull the energy off of your toes. Try this on one foot and stand up. See if you can feel the difference in how this foot feels on the ground relative to the other foot. Now try it on the other foot.
  • Massage your hands, especially the spaces in between your metacarpals (finger bones). Gently squeeze each finger and finger nail and pull the energy off of your fingers. Try this with one hand and then see if your hands feel any different. Now try it on the other hand.
  • Spoon your feet.  I know that this sounds silly but it is tremendously effective (it re-aligns the polarity of your body to be more connected with that of the earth and leads to grounding).  Get a spoon that attracts a magnet. Move the spoon along the sole of your foot and sides of your foot.
  • Massage the front of your shin along the outer edge of your tibia down to your 2nd toe (the one right next to your big toe). If you find a tender spot spend some more time there until the tenderness dissipates (the tenderness is often a sign that energy is stuck). This technique helps energy move out of your body and down into the earth which assists with grounding (like a grounding wire in a house).
  • Stand on wet grass in bare feet

grounding through feet

Being grounded can make an enormous difference in how connected, emotionally stable and effective we are.  How different would your interaction and presentation style be if you were grounded?

 

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